We received this somewhat vague and difficult to decipher question a few day ago from a reader: “how do I get rid of one inch brown worms into mulch flowers beds and patio?” The first part – about getting rid of the brown worms – is easy enough to understand, but the second part is a little harder to get a handle on. Presumably, the reader found the brown worms in (as opposed to “into”) his flower beds, but we aren’t sure what this has to do with his patio. Perhaps the one inch brown worms are in his flower bed and on his patio, and since they are a nuisance, he wants to get rid of them? This is as reasonable of an interpretation as we can come up with, so we’ll go ahead assume this is the reader’s situation and proceed accordingly.
Unfortunately, though, it is hard to proceed at all because it is essentially impossible to discern what our reader is finding on the basis of his description alone. No picture was submitted along with his question, so all we know is that he is finding brown worms that are about an inch long. To make matters worse, the word “worm” is seemingly one of the least precise words in the English language. Essentially any cylindrically shaped creature – various types of larvae, millipedes, slugs, and so on – might be called a “worm,” so our reader could be talking about a wide range of different creatures, and this of course makes answering his question difficult. If we don’t know what he is finding in his mulch and on his patio, assuming this is even the right way to read his question, it is hard to provide advice on how to get rid of it.
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What we can do is offer some general advice about worms and other creatures that people find in their yards, plants, and gardens, and hopefully this will help our reader to some extent. First, and as most gardeners know, worms and other insects can be extremely beneficial to your plants. The various species of earthworm, for instance, are absolutely essential to the health of soil, which they keep aerated by digging tunnels through it. The presence of earthworms is a sign that your garden is healthy, and if our reader is finding regular earthworms, he certainly shouldn’t be trying to get rid of them. (To be sure, the creatures our reader found are only an inch long, and earthworms are generally longer than this, but earthworms can be small, and perhaps the reader’s measurement wasn’t precise anyway.) Lots of other creatures are beneficial to plants, and our reader should consider this before trying to eliminate something from his flower beds.
That said, there are a great deal of pests that will damage and kill plants, and of course these should be gotten rid of. Again, we don’t know what our reader is dealing with, but there are some general measures he can take to keep pests at bay. To begin, if any of his flowers are weak or dying, they should be removed. They could already be infected, or if they aren’t, they are an attractive target for a pest to go after. On a related note, the reader’s flower bed should be cleared frequently of weeds and other debris – accumulations of certain types of organic matter can serve as breeding grounds for insects. Overall, mulch is excellent for your garden for a number of reasons – it keeps earthworms in the soil, for one thing – and our reader is wise to use it, but the mulch needs to be kept clean. Finally, it is a good idea to water plants early in the day so that the foliage dries as soon as possible. Wet leaves can attract insects and invite other damage to your plants, like fungal infections. Of course, this advice is far from exhaustive, but it is solid information to keep in mind when attempting any sort of gardening endeavor.
Unfortunately, we can only speak in generalities about our reader’s question because so much remains unclear. We don’t exactly know what his situation is, and we also don’t know what kind of worm (if it even is a worm) he is dealing with. However, he will be served well by remembering that not all worms and insects are pests, and also by following some of the basic gardening advice we laid out above.
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